Aretha Franklin received the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation honor Monday.
Being awarded this honor makes the Queen of Soul the first individual woman to receive the award since 1930, according to the Associated Press. The Pulitzer board said Franklin was given the award because of “her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”
When Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, heard the news about the Pulitzer, she and the family were “surprised, but in another way … not, because that’s just the kind of person Aretha was.” (RELATED: Aretha Franklin’s Family: Reverend’s Eulogy Was ‘Offensive And Distasteful’)
“Aretha is blessed and highly favored even in death. She’s continued to receive multiple awards — she’s received almost every award imaginable and now to get the Pulitzer Prize, it’s just amazing,” Owens, the executor of Franklin’s estate, told the Associated Press. “Aretha continues to bless us with her music and just paving the way for women going forward. It’s thrilling. She would be so happy right now.”
There had only been 41 special citations given out before Franklin and the Capital Gazette received the award Monday. The winners of the Pulitzer have been individuals, groups and even organizations. The New York Times, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan and Columbia University and its Graduate School of Journalism are a few among those who have received the award in the past.
Franklin passed away Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old at the time.